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STRUCTURE OF A HARD NEWS STORY

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Giorgia Callander

on 10 March 2014

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Transcript of STRUCTURE OF A HARD NEWS STORY

ISSUE BASED STORIES
THE INVERTED PYRAMID
ISSUE BASED STORIES
- Issue based stories often deal with
trends, broad problems, reactions
or
social, cultural
and l
egal issues.
-With issue based stories, reporters should design their inverted pyramids to ensure that the
chief subject headings
, are mentioned
high in the story.

- Using this strategy, such a story might be structured as follows:

1.
intro
(mentions issues/ideas A, B, C)
2.
summary paragraph
(further develops issue/idea A)
3.
supporting paragraph
(further develops on issues/ideas B and C)
4.
quotation
5.
other issues/ideas
(D, E, F)
6.
issue/idea A
(full details)
7.
issue/idea B
(full details)
8.
issue/idea C
(full details)
9.
issue/idea D
(full details)
10.
issue/idea E
(full details)
11.
issue/idea F
(full details) (Conley, 1997)
WHAT IS HARD NEWS?
EVENT BASED STORIES
STRUCTURE OF A HARD NEWS STORY
'Locking the right information into the right places is the essence of reporting, just as hard news is the essence of any newspaper' (Conley, 1997)

Hard news generally refers to news that deals with
serious topics
,
events
or
affairs
that are reported
immediately.

A hard news article will take a
factual approach,

who
was involved?
what
happened?
where
and
when
?
how
and
why
?

Follows a
structure
which ensures that the most
newsworthy information
is given
first
, and the information with the weakest news value is left until last.













How should a hard news story be structured? How does the structure differ from other story structures in journalism?
The
most recognized
and
commonly used
structure for a hard story is the inverted pyramid structure.

The inverted pyramid is a
graphic representation
of the journalistic principle that a story's
most important element
should appear at the
top
. (Conley, 1997)

Came about during
19th century
, when faulty telegraph wires were leaving editors with incomplete stories - so reporters were told to
send
the most
important information first.


From this, the inverted pyramid was put in place and to this day is arguably the
most efficient structure
for communicating hard news
quickly, coherently and clearly.

Allows reader to scan the first sentence or paragraph of the story and
pick up key facts,
if the introduction arouses their interest they can keep reading, or if not they can move onto the next story.

Employs
Kiplings Questions - the 5 W's and the H
(Where, When, Why, Who, What, How)



The Headline

- convey the
general message
in as many words as will fit. Has to be
informative
and can be clever.
The Intro/Lead
- arguably the most
important
part of the article.
- Should encapsulate the
main ideas
of the story in a short sharp sentence of up to about
25 words.
- Will usually explain
what
happened, to
who
and
where.
The Tail
- may use
quotes, background info,
and/or a
chronology.

- last part of article should contain
least newsworthy details
The Body
-

subsequent paragraphs and sentences should explain
when
,
how
and
why.
INCIDENT BASED STORIES
- incident based stories revolve around similar structure to event based stories, and are still maintained within the guidelines of the inverted pyramid structure

- For example, an incident based story about a
fire scene
may follow a similar structure to:

Lead Paragraph:

summarize
the incident

Paragraph Two
:
identify the injured

Paragraph Three:

explain
how the fire occurred

Paragraph Four:

strongest
quote

Paragraph Five:
details of properties damaged

Paragraph Six
: chronology,
beginning from when alarm was raised

Final Paragraph:

background
and any
progress
of the investigation. (Conley, 1997)
TRANSITIONAL DEVICES, STRUCTURING FOR FAIRNESS AND BALANCE AND CHRONOLOGY
Chief subject headings - even the less important ones (subjects D, E and F) are mentioned early in the story for
three reasons...

1. many readers will
not read the entirety
of the story

2. some readers might not be as interested in other chief subject headings (A, B, C) but they might find the
other subject
headings (D, E, F)
highly interesting.

3. Readers often
do not like
to be
surprised
-

th
ey like to know what they are gong to be told early on in the story. (Conley, 1997)
- An event based story will be structured slightly differently to a issue based story

- It's focus is a
natural sequence of events
.

- They involve
explanation/description
of a
problem
or
situation

- Include material on
background
and
context.

- For example, the structure or sequence of a police rounds story, although still
within the inverted pyramid format, might be:
Lead Paragraph
-
Injuries
Paragraph Two
-
Physical damage
Paragraph Three
-
Chronology/summary
Paragraph Four
-
Suspects/explanation of cause
Paragraph Five
-
Quotations
Final Paragraph
-
Update on event
(Conley 1997)
BUILDING BLOCKS OF STORY STRUCTURE
To understand any type of story-structuring, it helps to recognize a story's individual parts, or 'building blocks'. To maintain pace and the interest of the reader, news stories should be constructed of a variety of building blocks.
1. Narrative

2. Description

3. Quotations

4. Paraphrasing

5. Exposition


(Conley, 1997)
-
Transitional devices
, or 'word bridges'
glue stories together
. Strategies (transitional devices) are used to ensure
coherence
throughout a story.

- They transport the reader not only from
one sentence to the next
, but also from
one subject to the next.

- 'Transitions within an article should be
seamless
- there but not noticed.' (Conley, 1997)

- Without effective transitions, the reader can feel as if they are suddenly reading a completely different story
- Structuring for fairness and balance focuses on structuring a story so that
each view poin
t is
displayed equally

- To publish something
fairly
is to
publish it prominently
, not in the last paragraph. (Conley, 1997)

-
Opposing view points
should be displayed
high
in the story and with
equality in length.
OTHER STORY STRUCTURES IN JOURNALISM - FEATURE WRITING
ASNE STUDY - ALTERNATIVES TO INVERTED PYRAMID REPORTING
CRITICISMS OF INVERTED PYRAMID REPORTING
- The
Chronology,
or the
time line
can be a critical source in
piecing together
what has occurred.

- They help the reported
find links between decisions and actions
that may have taken place

- Chronologies are
never meant for full publication
, they contain far too much detail and information

- the inverted pyramid style of reporting is often
criticized
for placing
too much importance
on
events

rather than people or the reader.

- often, the inverted pyramid style means that the
further the reader reads
into the story, the
less interesting
it becomes.

- this is due to the fact that the inverted pyramid format employs a
'decreasing in importance'
style. Which means the reader often loses interest.

- Compared to story-telling style of writing, the inverted pyramid encourages
paper skimming,
but discourages reading. (Lamble, 2013)

-
American Society of Newspaper Editors - research 1993

- Conducted a study that concluded that the inverted pyramid format does not always equate to effective reporting

- results found hat readers found that the traditional approaches such as the inverted pyramid less appealing and interesting than stories that employ story-telling techniques, which were simply better to read and more effective at communicating information
-
Four reporters involved in the project suggested reporters and editors should:

- accept and exploit new forms and techniques

- encourage story telling in news stories

- take chances

- think of the inverted pyramid as
a
form, not
the
form

- insist on separation of 'news telling' from opinion.

- use a 'soft' introduction - longer or more complex introduction that does not attempt to explain the entire story to the reader at the start. (Conley, 1997)


-




- 'It is hard news that catches the reader. Features hold them". (Lord Northcliffe)

- various other story structures used in journalism other than hard news.

- Feature writing breaks out of the hard news format

- Allows reporters to work on larger canvas's with richer resources.

- Give journalists more freedom of language, and the ability to explore more issues from a greater number of sources.

OTHER STORY STRUCTURES IN JOURNALISM - FEATURE WRITING
OTHER STORY STRUCTURES IN JOURNALISM - FEATURE WRITING
There are many different types of feature stories:

1.
The news feature

2.
The Profile

3
.
Seasonal

4.

How-to

5.
Lifestyle/Trend

6.

Historical


7.
Human-interest

8.
Investigative



- Some events can result in many of the types of feature stories discussed.
- For example, the Port Arthur tragedy, which claimed the lives of 35 Tasmanian's during 1996, resulted in:

News Feature
- pieced together a chronology of events with emphasis on deaths and injuries, the suspect and the actions of authorities.

Profile
- on the suspect and key people who were there.

Human Interest
- on the victims, hospital staff, police and witnesses.

Historical features -
on Port Arthur and on previous massacres.

Investigative features
- based on the 'why' of the massacre.


(Conley, 1997)
Wild pig causes two-hour traffic delay on I-94
By JOE STUDENT

St. Paul, Jan. 24 — A 15-minute operation involving a forklift, 20 firefighters, seven police officers and one scared pig ended a two-hour traffic delay on Interstate 94 Sunday morning.

The wild pig, whom the fireman affectionately nicknamed “Tailgate,” apparently wandered onto 1-94 around 8 a.m. and fell asleep in the middle of the two-lane freeway.

St. Paul resident Geoffrey Saint was the first to come upon the 200-pound animal.”He practically took up the whole road,” Saint said. “I barely slammed on my breaks in time.”
Saint said the cars behind him followed suit, each stopping short after reaching speeds of up to 70 mph. Saint stayed in his car and phoned area police, who responded at 8:20 a.m.

Lieutenant Terry Frank was the first officer on the scene. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Frank said. “Here was this huge, sloppy pig, just napping in the middle of the road, oblivious to what was going on around him.”
Frank said she attempted to rouse the pig by poking him with a stick.

“He just kept on snoring,” she said.

By 9 a.m., three fire trucks and four patrol cars had responded to the “sleeping pig” call.
“We just sat there and wondered what in the world we could do,” Frank said.
answer - E, B, C, A, D, F
Full transcript